Sex hormone–binding globulin is a biomarker associated with nonvertebral fracture in men on dialysis therapy

Jasna Aleksova, Phillip Wong, Robert McLachlan, Kay Weng Choy, Peter R. Ebeling, Frances Milat, Grahame J. Elder

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Gonadal hormones impact bone health and higher values of sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) have been independently associated with fracture risk in men without chronic kidney disease. People with chronic kidney disease have a greatly increased fracture risk, and gonadal dysfunction is common in men receiving dialysis treatment. Nevertheless, in these men the effect of gonadal steroids and SHBG on bone mineral density (BMD) and fracture risk is unknown. Here we investigate relationships between gonadal steroids, SHBG, BMD and fracture in men on long-term dialysis therapy, awaiting kidney or simultaneous pancreas kidney transplantation. Results of serum biochemistry, SHBG, gonadal steroids (total testosterone, calculated free testosterone and estradiol), BMD by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and thoracolumbar X-rays were obtained. Multivariable regression models were used to examine associations between SHBG, gonadal steroids, BMD and fracture of 321 men with a mean age of 47 years. Diabetes mellitus was present in 45% and their median dialysis vintage was 24 months. Prior fractures occurred in 42%, 18% had vertebral fracture on lateral spine X-ray, 17% had non-vertebral fragility fracture within 10 years and 7% had both. After adjustment for age, body mass index and dialysis vintage, higher SHBG levels were significantly associated with nonvertebral fractures [odds ratio 1.81 (1.30-2.53)] and remained significant after adjustment for BMD. Calculated free testosterone and estradiol values were not associated with fracture. Prevalent fracture rates were high in relatively young men on dialysis awaiting transplantation. Thus, SHBG is a novel biomarker associated with fracture, which warrants investigation in prospective studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-380
Number of pages9
JournalKidney International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • bone mineral density
  • chronic kidney disease
  • dialysis
  • fracture
  • gonadal steroids
  • sex hormone–binding globulin

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